Many wireless providers in the U.S. require customers to sign a two-year service agreement when purchasing a new smartphone, though some still allow subscribers to upgrade to a new device with a full subsidy once every 20 months. This may soon become a thing of the past, however. Verizon (VZ) on Friday announced that it will no longer be offering early upgrades to its customers. The carrier will allow subscribers who are set to receive an upgrade prior to September 1st, meaning their contract was going to expire on or before January 1st, 2014, to upgrade early. Customers who won’t be eligible for an upgrade until after September 1st will have to wait until the end of their 24-month agreements to buy a new smartphone, unless they wish to do so at full retail price. Verizon has also announced that it will remove all unused credits from its retired New Every 2 program on April 15th.
The chief executive of Verizon (VZ) revealed on Wednesday that video streaming accounts for 50% of the carrier’s network traffic, FierceWireless reported. Speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters, CEO Lowell McAdam noted that the company’s investment in its high-speed LTE network has benefited its customers and made high-quality streaming video possible. The executive said that with 3G you could only watch small video clips that would require tons of buffering, however with 4G LTE there are endless possibilities. Verizon believes streaming video will continue to be popular with its customers and estimates that by 2017 it could make up two-thirds on all traffic over its network. The CEO previously revealed that 23% of its wireless subscribers were using LTE smartphones as of January. McAdam also noted that Apple added LTE capabilities to the iPhone 5 only after he met with Steve Jobs and sold him on the benefits of the new high-speed technology.
All eyes are on T-Mobile as the carrier embarks on a new journey that will eliminate its standard cell phone service contracts in favor of a more transparent hardware financing model. U.S. carriers in particular will be watching this story unfold quite closely, and the chief executive of the nation’s top carrier recently said he would happily drop the cell phone contract model if Verizon Wireless subscribers express interest in this new model en masse. More →
A new report claims that two unlikely partners may team up to acquire the world’s second-largest mobile carrier. According to the Financial Times, Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) are working on a breakup bid for European carrier Vodafone (VOD) that would value the company at $245 billion, a 40% premium over its current valuation of $115. The deal would see Verizon take control of the 45% stake Vodafone currently owns in Verizon Wireless, while Vodafone’s business outside of the U.S. would go to AT&T. Earlier reports suggested that Verizon and Vodafone were actively discussing ways to resolve their relationship in the form of a merger or possibly a full or partial buyout. More →
BlackBerry’s (BBRY) Z10 launch got off to a shaky start last week amid widespread reports that AT&T (T) retail outlets were doing little to promote the device to customers and that many of its staff members were unprepared to answer questions about the device. The good news for BlackBerry is that Verizon (VZ) seems to have significantly stepped up its game because Barron’s reports that employees at a Verizon flagship store in Manhattan were able to give knowledgeable explanations about BlackBerry’s Hub and Balance features as key differentiators from other devices. Barron’s also says that while “the store was not filled with BlackBerry promotional materials… there was a brightly lit, large sign above a row of smartphones that showed the image of the Z10.” In all, it sounds like Verizon is making more of a push to make the Z10 successful than its top rival has made so far.
Wireless carriers have played a huge role in the proliferation of smartphones and tablets in recent years, and that fact that these devices make our lives easier is hardly their motive. According to a new report from market research firm ABI Research, revenue from mobile data is expected to balloon 21.4% between 2012 and 2014, at which time it will account for 40.4% of the $1 trillion spent globally on cell phone services. ”By offering unlimited voice calls and texts, while making data the only component in a bundled plan with positive marginal costs to consumers, wireless operators as AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) help to prop up voice and messaging, making positive revenue contributions in the short to medium-term,” ABI research associate Ying Kang Tan said. ”Rich Communication Services (RCS) and voice and messaging APIs are a key part of their strategy of making carrier-based calls and messaging relevant to their customers.”
Verizon (VZ) on Thursday announced a new cross-platform update for its text messaging app for Android and iOS devices. The application, known as Messages, allows users to send and receive a text message from a PC, smartphone or tablet. Messages are stored on Verizon’s cloud for up to 90 days or until deleted and can also be saved permanently on an SD card. Unlike services from WhatsApp, Google Talk and iMessage, the application utilizes your smartphone’s phone number rather than a username or special PIN. The service sets itself further apart from the competition with a handful of unique features such as the ability to send automated replies to a text when busy. Verizon’s Messages application is available now in Google Play and the iOS App Store. A video demo follows below. More →
Cable service providers in the United States are obligated to offer lesser watched channels if they want to carry some of the more popular names. Companies such as Viacom (VIAB), Comcast (CMCSA) and others have bundled these smaller, more niche channels to service providers for years, however cable companies are starting to fight back. Cablevision (CVC) recently filed suit against Viacom over this practice and other providers such as Verizon (VZ) are looking into new and “disruptive” payment models. More →
Netflix (NFLX) just got an intriguing competitor this week now that Verizon (VZ) has brought its Redbox Instant video streaming service out of beta and has made it available to the general public. Redbox Instant, which is available to everyone regardless of whether they’re a Verizon customer, is initially offering a range of 7,500 “streaming and transactional movie titles” for $8 a month. The service works on Macs, PCs and the Xbox 360, which entered into a deal with Verizon earlier this year to become “the exclusive gaming and entertainment console launch partner for Redbox Instant.” Verizon is currently offering a free one-month trial for the new streaming service.
Verizon (VZ) plans to use the AWS spectrum it acquired from a consortium of cable companies in the second half of 2013. The company’s CTO, Nicola Palmer, revealed in an interview with Fierce Wireless that the carrier will complete its LTE rollout on the 700MHz spectrum by mid-year, and plans to expand its LTE coverage with 5,000 new sites in 2013, with more to follow in 2014. The current generation of Verizon LTE devices won’t be able to utilize the network, however, and Verizon plans to offer AWS-compatible devices before July. The executive also reiterated the company’s plans to launch its VoLTE service by the end of this year or early next year.
Verizon (VZ) on Wednesday announced the availability of BlackBerry’s (BBRY) Z10 smartphone. Customers will be able to pre-order the handset in black or white beginning on Thursday, March 13th. The BlackBerry Z10 is equipped with a 4.2-inch 720p display, a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and an 8-megapixel rear camera. The smartphone also features 16GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, 2GB of RAM, NFC, LTE connectivity and a 1800 mAh battery. The BlackBerry Z10 will be available online and in stores from Verizon on March 28th for $199 with a new two-year agreement.
Verizon (VZ) was suspiciously absent from HTC’s (2498) One press conference last month. The flagship smartphone is scheduled to arrive on AT&T (T), Sprint (S) and T-Mobile at the end of the month, and now the latest rumor suggests Verizon will offer the handset later this year. According to AllThingsD, the HTC One will launch on Verizon “a month or two” after its competitors, though it is unclear if the phone will be the same handset that will be offered by other carriers or a rebranded version, as has been the case with Verizon in the past. A Bluetooth SIG certification recently uncovered a Verizon smartphone with identical specs to the HTC One, and earlier rumors suggested that the carrier was planning to offer a device called the DROID DNA Plus, which many had speculated would be a rebranded version of HTC’s latest smartphone.
The HTC (2498) One is one of the best-looking Android devices we’ve seen in a while, but there is one downside to it — so far it’s available on every single major American wireless carrier except for Verizon (VZ). But Droid-Life found a Bluetooth SIG certification filing over the weekend for an upcoming device with the model number “HTC6445LVW” that the site believes is likely a version of the HTC One designed for Verizon. Droid-Life’s reasoning is this: The last big HTC to come to Verizon, the Droid DNA, has a model number of “HTC6435LVW,” so it’s very likely that the 6445 model is the next HTC phone to release for the carrier. What’s more, the mystery phone’s specifications match up exactly with the HTC One’s specs, so the chances are good that some version of HTC’s flagship phone is coming to Verizon in the near future.